> In the West, we’re prone to taking what isn’t ours and acting as if we discovered it, conveniently forgetting its history and context.
Can any culture claim a flavor as “theirs” and get angry at other cultures for tasting it? Such throwaway comments have been commonplace in the NYT and I don’t understand their purpose. The whole world likes good flavor, let’s not gatekeep it, I’d rather we unite the world through food than make it yet another divisive force.
When that context figures a good deal into why a land is poor and its former colonial master is rich, this attitude is mostly patronizing. Particularly when being poor means an unsafe environment, hunger and abject poverty.
When the West pays reparations is when we can act as if everyone is on equal footing.
> When the West pays reparations is when we can act as if everyone is on equal footing.
Except we won't be. Even if the west pays trillions to Africa we won't suddenly be equal economically. So How much? Like do you have a practical implementation or proposal. And who do you give the money to in dictatorships?
Or what about colony refugees or descendants who now reside in the west. Should we tax differently based on race to offset the initial sins?
How far back do you go? Reparations on a national scale is a completely impractical idea, and will not actually aid the people you imagine.
The money would be better spent on integrating the world, creating more trade, and indeed sending a lot of money to the old colonies. Just not under the marker of colonial restitution, which is actually patronizing.
I'm not trying to blame people who live now or decide how this should be fixed, I'm only pointing that it is much bigger and deeper issue to be described as lightly as in "got angry". I should have worded it better.
Also, could you give some examples of colonies which were not related to European countries?
Dude all civilizations have conquered other people and taken their land/resources. That's how they attained being a civilization. Human history was brutal up until and even including now. So we can try to do our best to move past that, you can see what happens when people never move past past wrongs: Israel vs Palestinians.
The Mongols were legit from the asian steppes and completely ransacked people over thousands of square miles.
The Japanese were mainland asians that almost wiped out the existing Ainu people of the island of Japan.
In Africa, the west africans from the denses jungles took over much of the drier land of the south, where the indigeneous bush people lived.
Surprised it overlooks salt, especially as it mentions "Spices were among the first engines of globalization". The salt mines in the Salzburg ("Salt Fortress" or "Salt Castle"!!) were operating 7000 years ago and have been a considerable source of the areas riches, starting with the Celtic population trading to Greeks and Romans.
Salt played a role in both the American and the French revolutions:
This blog post does not dispute the broad consensus that salarium comes from sal and that salarium was used to designate salary or emolument. It only tries to dispute the idea that people were paid in salt.
I'm south indian, and I routinely cook with at least 8 - 10 spices. Most common are the whole garam masala (bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, black pepper, cumin, coriander seeds, mustard and turmeric)
off-topic: If you like reading about the historical use of the coca leaf, opium, tea, tobacco, khat, coffee, etc, I really recommend the 1855 book "Plant Intoxicants". The book describes both historical and contemporary usage, but owing to its publication date it's all historical now.
Real coca leaves? I don't think so, whole plant is banned basically everywhere apart from few places in South america. Unless you mean something altered that has no real cocaine alkaloid, like drinks with marihuana 'extracts' / seeds that contain 0% THC.
Not that I agree with this, had my share of teas and chew in Bolivia (with what locals called 'activator', at least thats how miners did it in Potosi), apart from local lack of sense in gum/jaw there wasn't any real effect... no more than a regular coffee (which doesn't have any tangible effect on me, but I enjoy the taste & ritual).
But from plant you can make cocaine, so I get the logic. Funny thing is, some botanical gardens in Europe have the plant, not marked in any obvious way apart from latin name. I can confirm that it contained alkaloid, the numbing gum sensation was quite strong.
Cocaine comes from coca leaves. If you have ever had a Coca Cola, you have tasted extract from the coca leaf, though with the cocaine (hallucinogen) removed.
Opium is found in poppy seeds which are used to top bread. Some US military members will refrain from eating bread with poppy seeds because it can cause them to fail random drug tests required by military service. This can potentially get you booted with a dishonorable discharge.
Unrefined coca is less stimulating. Seeing as refined cocaine was being used in products marketed to infants and children and well understood (by professionals at least) to be fantastically habit forming, I think the pivot to caffeine was somewhere between 99-100% influenced by the impending narcotics regulations.
Hmm, so, I somewhat take your point about opium, although the flavour of poppy seeds is vastly different from the bitter taste of opium.
I've tried coca leaves in Peru (supposedly they help with altitude sickness; I didn't get altitude sickness, but who knows!) - they are used by locals because they are a stimulant, not because they taste nice (they're not particularly bad, a kind of generic "herbal" taste, but certainly nothing you'd purposely add for flavour).
Lead(II) acetate (Pb(CH3COO)2), also known as lead acetate, lead diacetate, plumbous acetate, sugar of lead, lead sugar, salt of Saturn, or Goulard's powder, is a white crystalline chemical compound with a sweet taste.
So clearly (?) it would add a sweet taste, regardless of how much of the acid was chemically consumed.
I've been going the other way recently. How could it have been so tough to flavor dishes? Honey & frankincense might have been hard to come by, but oregano, basil, cilantro/coriander, cumin, parsley, anise, fennel, rosemary, tarragon, dill, chives, mint, and thyme (just off the top of my head) were all available in southern Europe and can mostly be grown in your kitchen.
The spice trade brought cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, black pepper, and turmeric.
> Herbs generally refers to the leafy green or flowering parts of a plant (either fresh or dried), while spices are usually dried and produced from other parts of the plant, including seeds, bark, roots and fruits.
People confused can look up the definition of herbs and spices.
>Where herbs are often chosen to complement and flatter the ingredients they adorn, spices call attention to themselves, transforming and sometimes even usurping a dish, so it becomes a mere vehicle and excuse for spice itself.
Similarly (and unsurprisingly, given that many are made from spices), pigments. I recently read "The Secret Lives of Color" by Kasia St. Clair, and its pretty remarkable what has been required to produce various pigments throughout history, and the costs associated with doing so.
Transporting any significant quantity of sea water would have been a serious challenge to the ancient world, even just from the shore in to the middle of a port city. The easiest way to transport water is downhill, which, alas, doesn't work so well if you're starting from sea level.
You can get water from the seashore just by evaporating it. It's simple, effective, and was done. But it's a lot more convenient to swing a pick and get a chunk of salt the size of your hand, rather than secure somewhere to evaporate off water, load it up, wait for it to evaporate, and collect it. It's the same reason we're stuck on fossil fuels... it's not that they're the only method we have for obtaining energy, it's just that nothing else can compete with putting in 1 unit of energy and getting back 80 or 90.
"For a society without trains or trucks, moving bulk materials of any kind over long distances is extraordinarily expensive. Moving grain overland, for instance, would cause its cost to double after 100 miles."
Salt differs from other spices in a couple obvious ways:
1. It is a rock, not a biological product.
2. It is not used primarily for flavoring (though salt in specific has a strong flavor) -- it is a vital nutrient in its own right.
With the exception of the flavoring, it has those things in common with iron, and iron and salt are the two commodities which were always widely traded, even in areas which engaged in almost no nonlocal trade.
It was valuable everywhere because it was used for more than just flavoring and even if it was just for flavoring some things you would want to add salt to you don't want to also add water to. Salt water also comes with all the microbial content that would make long term storage and transport difficult.
I have a theory that dorito powder is the most sophisticated product designed by humankind, as measured by the hours invested in its development by who knows how many scientists and engineers. An OS kernel might have more, but I'm not sure.
(totally speaking out of my ass with no evidence here) I feel like there's probably some bureaucratic enterprise software company out there that's put more man hours into a horribly architected CRUD app than most OS kernels.
Although that was somewhat your point. Doritos are much better than CRUD apps too.
> But Americans do [use turmeric] having suddenly and belatedly awakened to turmeric’s health benefits, some 3,000 years after they were first set down in the Atharva Veda, one of Hinduism’s foundational sacred texts.
And there goes my interest in reading the rest of the article. Why continue to read what is supposedly a history piece if it opens with pseudoscience? How am I supposed to trust that it's not pseudohistory as well?
I think the article is a great example of what happens when American attitudes get applied to Eastern traditions. Turmeric with black pepper in milk has long been a traditional "comfort drink" in India. Does it work? I think it does, but not in the sense that there is a specific chemical that is causing a specific response that can cure something like aortic inflammation. The concept of a "health benefit" in Indian families is "drink this and rest it will make you feel good and get healthy soon." The American approach, described in the article, is to find that Kerala turmeric has 6% curcumin compared to Tamil Nadu's 3%, and wow Nicaragua is at 7.9% so let's get a bunch of that and have it every day and it will control our aortic inflammation! and that's just too much to ask of turmeric.
Just because a homeopathy is a charlatan field doesn’t mean all of it is pseudoscience. Ayurveda has some scientifically validated remedies. If you remember, yoga used to be considered a sham until we started discovering a lot of what was claimed turned out to be true.